First of its kind session in Prince Albert ensures Sask. RCMP police dogs stay healthy

A Saskatchewan RCMP police dog handler provides first aid to a dog dummy during a two-day session in Prince Albert. The session was the first of its kind held by the Saskatchewan RCMP. -- RCMP/Submitted

Saskatchewan RCMP police dogs are highly trained and multi-skilled, but they sometimes need help from police dog handlers to stay in the field.

That was the focus as RCMP members from across Saskatchewan gathered in Prince Albert on Feb. 6-7 for a new training and proactive medical care session developed by a veterinarian with the RCMP Police Dog Service Training Centre.

The session helps dog handlers care for their dogs in case of sudden injury or illness in the line of duty.

“Our police dogs are just like our police officers. When they respond to calls for service, it requires a high level of physical activity and exposure to high-risk situations,” Saskatchewan RCMP Police Dog Services (PDS) head Sgt. David McClarty said. “Because of this, our handlers need to have the skills to keep those valuable members of Saskatchewan RCMP’s operational team healthy—and to know what to do in the case of an emergency.”

The Prince Albert session was the first of its kind held in Saskatchewan RCMP jurisdiction. It covered everything from mobility exercises to recognizing signs of heatstroke, to administering proper doses of medication in the field.

During the two-day session, officers ran through mock trauma scenarios, administered first aid to a dog dummy, and discussed the emotional response handlers may have if their dog is injured.

Saskatchewan RCMP police dogs assisted in 1,015 investigations last year. That includes 229 high risk situations involving firearms, and 82 involving other weapons.

McClarty said RCMP police dog teams were active in every corner of the province.

“As Saskatchewan’s police service, we are uniquely able to deploy these elite-trained PDS teams anywhere they are needed,” he said. “I’m proud of the work they do. I don’t think people always realize the immense physical condition our handlers must be in or the intense training – which is always ongoing – PDS does.

“This medical training we provided is just one example of our ongoing efforts to seek out more and more ways to enhance PDS’s already-impressive skills, so we can continue to support public safety in Saskatchewan.”

All police dogs have general duty training, including searching, tracking, and assisting in the apprehension of suspects. Some dogs also have specialized skills, like detecting drugs or explosives.